BRADENTON -- With sales of household durable goods booming, John Rice is ready to enjoy the privileges of ownership.
Rice, owner of Rice's Appliance & TV and Rice's Outdoor Power, spent more than $2.5 million last week to purchase the building his businesses have occupied since 2010. Manatee County property records show the sale includes a 72,600-square-foot building on 5.5 acres at 6430 14th Street West, Bradenton.
The seller is a Bradenton company managed by Bradley Turner, according to state corporate records.
Rice took out a $2.47 million mortgage from Synovus Bank to make the purchase, county records show.
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Formerly a DeSears Appliance location, the building comes full circle in the deal. Rice was part of a local partnership that purchased the now-defunct DeSears brand in 1994. He and his partners sold the business to a Colorado company in 2008. The stores closed less than two years later.
Rice's partners in DeSears were Bradenton insurers Stuart Gregory and English DeChamps, and H.L. Robinson.
Rice said he has been working on a deal to buy the building since the start of 2015. With sales up 25 percent over 2014, he said he wanted control of the property so he could expand his business. He plans to make a small addition to his building and add scratch-and-dent retail appliance sales and to bring more offerings to his yard machinery sales and service operation.
He expects to add five to 10 employees to his current 15-person workforce with the expansion.
"I think the market is start
ing to loosen up," Rice said. "There's a lot of pent-up demand."
Recently named a finalist for the 2015 Manatee Small Business Awards, Rice's Appliance has been growing steadily for the past five years.
Rice said homeowners affected by the cash crunch during the Great Recession are now spending more freely on appliances and other home goods. Rice's also sells to the new home market, largely in the custom home sector.
Rice is the sole owner of his business, and he will make additional use of his new property by leasing about 25,000 square feet of warehouse space.
Another former DeSears store in Palmetto sold in late 2013 for about $1 million. That building measures more than 25,000 square feet.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027 or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.